I was very concerned about the damage to the boat that had happened during a storm back in December. When we arrived, I assessed the damage and determined it was all superficial. I needed to secure a portion of the metal strip of the rub rail that had some screws ripped out, but the rest was just scratches to the teak deck rail that we had worked so hard to make it look great last year. I will need to do some more sanding and repair a missing chip at some point in the future, but for now we are good to go.
|You can see the chip out of the teak and the putty fix. Those two screws in the center had been ripped out.|
|More scratches and the stipe was worn off.|
|You can see the missing piling is this picture.|
I turned my attention to testing the other systems on the boat, so that we could get moving. We decided to depart the next day.
Neither Kim or I were feeling 100% from the cold we caught on our trip, but we were good enough to depart.
There was a fairly strong wind out of the Northeast. This can mean bad things for Punta Gorda that sits on the Northeast corner of Charlotte harbor. The wind can literally push a significant amount of water causing very low water. We untied the lines and headed down the canals. We had over an hour trip to get out of the inlet and out into open water. After about a half hour on the canals we passed a large sailboat coming in the opposite direction. He called me on the radio and told me that he had been stuck at the inlet for two hours waiting for the high tide that never came. He was seeing 3.5 feet depth.
|Cruising down the canals of Punta Gorda.|
|Beautiful homes along the way|
We draw 4.5 feet. That won't work. I called our dock host and asked if we could return for another night and try again tomorrow. He graciously said yes. In a half hour we were back where we started.
We decided to walk the 1.4 miles to the closest restaurant and had a pizza. We also stopped at a convenient store and bought a half gallon of milk and 4 bananas for $10. That would become an important purchase.
The next day we made it out the inlet without a problem and never saw less than 6.5 feet at high tide. We had a fun sail to Useppa Island and dropped the hook. It was a pleasant evening with no wind. We could look across the ICW and see Cabbage Key, famous for the place to get a "Cheeseburger in Paradise".
|Useppa Island is where the rich and famous go to play.|
|Sunset over Cabbage Key|
I had been watching the weather closely and was getting more concerned about a system that was approaching. We had hoped to be down in a very protected spot in Marco by the time the storm arrived, but the delay had put us in a bad place. We were right around the corner from Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa SP. That Bay has excellent protection from the direction we would need. Kim loves Cayo Costa, so she voted to make a return. It was now Friday, January 14th. The storm would arrive on Sunday and last 36 hours. We pulled the anchor and motored the 3.2 miles to Pelican Bay.
|Kim had to go see one of her favorite beaches. The water was rough with the coming storm.|
|Here is a portion of the walk across the island. There are beautiful live oak trees.|
On Saturday, we took a 5 mile hike on the island and then a dinghy ride to see the Manatees. They must know there was a storm coming, there were a bunch of them in the protected bay.
|We walked around the north end of the island. It was a fun hike and we got to see a number of places we have not seen before.|
|One of our favorite places|
|This is the tram that takes people across the island to the beach and camping area. We would rather walk.|
Then we got back to the boat and did storm preparations. Many boats left the area, but a number of them moved over by us to get the best protection.
|I deployed my 30 foot storm bridle for the first time and tied it off at mid cleat.|
|It creaked and groaned, but stretched and the anchor held well.|
The storm arrived as predicted Sunday morning with some 30 knot wind and driving rain. There was a long squall line stretching hundreds of miles. Just before it hit us we started getting tornado warnings on our phones and the radio. We never saw one, but a number of small ones hit the area. There were a number of homes destroyed about 30 miles from us. The strong winds went on for 2 days and we stayed on the boat. We felt safe and the anchor held well. I have learned much about anchoring and I was able to put that all into practice.
|Strong winds and some light wave action, but we and the other boats did fine.|
The only problem was food. We thought we would provision in Marco Island, but we didn't make it that far. We had lots of dry and canned food on the boat, but no fresh food. That half of a gallon of milk, loaf of bread and 4 bananas were all the fresh items we had. We made it work and got inventive with what we had.
On Tuesday, January 18th we were ready to get moving south. We had 2 days travel to get to Marco Island. The problem was the next day was our 42nd Anniversary. In my next entry, I will write about how that worked out.